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NCE Radio

NCE offers a two-way (Duplex) radio system for it throttles.  Two-way simply means the throttles/cabs work exactly the same way in radio mode as they do when they are plugged in.  Other than learning how to turn the radio cab on and off, there is not much for you to learn.  You can get going with it very quickly.

NCE radio system is NCE system independent.  In other words, it can be added to any NCE DCC system.

COVERED IN THIS SECTION

1) WAYS TO GET NCE RADIO
2) WHAT ARE THE PARTS OF A RADIO SYSTEM?
3) RADIO CAB ADDRESS ASSIGNMENTS
4) USABLE RADIO CAB ADDRESSES VS NCE DCC SYSTEM
5) RADIO SOFTWARE VERSIONS FOR BASE STATION AND CABS
6) GOT RADIO PROBLEMS?  GO HERE:  Radio Problems?


1) WAYS TO GET NCE RADIO

Current NCE sells its radio system 4 ways:

1) Ordering a radio version of a complete NCE DCC system from the start.

2) Ordering a radio base and buying radio cabs/throttles to add radio to an existing NCE DCC system..

3) Ordering a radio base station and upgrading your existing cabs/throttles to radio versions to add radio to an existing NCE DCC system.

4) Combination of 2 & 3.

Note:  Upgrading existing cabs/throttle to radio involves contacting NCE and sending your cabs/throttles into NCE or an authorized NCE radio upgrade dealer.  There will be a fee for upgrading each cab to radio.


2) WHAT ARE THE PARTS OF A RADIO SYSTEM?

1) Radio Cab/Throttle.  Picture on the left shows you what the cab radio board looks like when installed in a cab.  Not shown is the battery area which is part of the back cover.   It connects to the black 2 terminal screw connector near the bottom right corner.  This is an older cab radio with an external antenna.  Today the antenna is inside.  The Red LED out the top tells you when the radio is communicating with the radio base station.  If the LED does not turn on when operating in radio mode, the cab is not talking to a valid/working radio base station.

2) Radio Base Station.  This is a black box the same size of an engineeer cab with tall antenna sticking out the top from the center.  It connects to the command station using the NCE cab bus on the end with a single Rj12 jack.  For a very large layout, expansion of radio coverage is possible using "repeaters" which plug into the opposite side with 2 RJ-12 jacks.




3) RADIO CAB ADDRESS ASSIGNMENTS

NCE DCC require the user to assign a "cab address" to each cab/throttle.  These addresses have nothing to do with engine addresses or any other type of addresses used on the DCC system.  

Each NCE cab address must be unique regardless of the type of NCE throttle/cab you are using.


The command station associates a given train address with the cab address that selected it.  In other words it assigns a train to a cab.  This allows the command station to communicate to many cabs at the same time regardless if the cab/throttle is radio or not.

Cab address are the same regardless if they are use plugged in or with radio.  When you change a given cabs address, it equally effects both radio and non radio operation.

Unfortunately at the time of this writing, NCE has not introduced a radio system where all the possible cab addresses that you can use when the Cab is plugged into the layout are available for use when the cab is operating in radio mode.  There are two restrictions.  The first restriction is there is a maximum of 48 Radio cabs that can be used.  Within that 48, the valid radio address are further broken down into two ranges that depend if you are using a ProCab throttle or not.

Cab Type
Lowest
Radio
Cab
Address
Highest
Radio
Cab
Address
Total
Radio
Cabs
 Notes
ProCab
2
17
16
All Radio Procabs must be within this address range.  If you assign a ProCab to any address above 17, the display will not work.  The reason why the ProCab's are being limited to a maximum of 16 is due to the memory limits of the current versions of the radio base station.  Memory is needed to support the data for the LCD screens.
Engineer
Cabs
(Non Procab) 
18
49
32
This is the recommended address range for all Engineer Cabs.  (Engineer Cabs are Cab04's, Cab05's or the Cab06's.  An Engineer cab is any cab that is NOT a ProCab.)  The recommendation is based on the idea of preserving radio addresses 2-17 just for the ProCabs.  Why?  If you assign a Radio Engineer Cab to any address between 2 and 17, you have given up the possibility of using that address for a Radio Procab and reduced the total number of Radio ProCabs that can run on the radio system by 1.
100%
Engineer
Cabs
(Non Procab)
2
49
48
This assumes you will not use any radio ProCabs which free's up all the available radio addresses for Engineer Cabs.  (Engineer Cabs are Cab04's, Cab05's or the Cab06's.  An Engineer cab is any cab that is NOT a ProCab.)

Note just because you can use a Cab04 in the 2-17 address range does not mean the address is independent of the ProCab address.   For example, if you assign cab address 12 to a Radio ProCab, address 12 is now no longer available for use by any other cab including the Radio Cab04.   Remember all cab addresses are unique and it does not matter what type of cab you have.


4) USABLE RADIO CAB ADDRESSES VS NCE DCC SYSTEM

Although the Radio System itself can support up to 48 radio cabs, the actual number you can use will vary with the NCE DCC system you use.  The system itself places additional constraints on the total number of cabs it will support.  When you combine these two limitations together, this creates a subset of valid radio cab address that cab be used on that specific NCE system.   The following table defines the usable radio cab addresses for various NCE command stations and the associated command station software they running.
i
This table assume the radio base station is running software V2.0 or higher.
NCE
System
Name
System
Software Version
Valid
Command
Station Cab
Addresses
Valid
Radio
ProCab
Addresses
Valid
Radio
Engineer Cab Addresses
Radio Operation Notes
PowerCab1.28x
3-4
(2 Total)
3-4
(2 Total)
3-4
(2 Total)
Cab Address 2 is used by the PowerCab when operating in PowerCab mode.
Assigning an address to the PowerCab does not change this.  It is only used when the PowerCab is operating in ProCab mode.
PowerCab1.65x
3-5
(3 Total)
3-5
(3 Total)
3-5
(3 Total)
Cab Address 2 is used by the PowerCab when operating in PowerCab mode.
Assigning an address to the PowerCab does not change this.  It is only used when the PowerCab is operating in ProCab mode.
SB3
1.28x
2-4
(3 Total)
2-4
(3 Total)
2-4
(3 Total)
Cab address 2 is free to use.
SB3a/SB5
1.65x
2-7
(4 Total)
2-7
(4 Total)
2-7
(4 Total)
Cab address 2 is free to use.
PowerPro
Any
1-63
(63 Total)
2-17
(16 Total)
2-49
(48 Total)
Address 1 is not usable.  Addresses above 49 (50 to 63) are not usable.

Large Layouts should AVOID using Engineer Cabs in the 2-17 range. Preserve them for ProCab use only.
Notes
x = any suffix version ID.


5) RADIO SOFTWARE VERSIONS

Each piece of the Radio System has its own software revision.

The Latest versions for the Cab Radio is V1.5
The Latest version for the Base Station is V2.1

To learn more about Cab Radio Versions and how to read them go here: Cab Radio Updates
To learn more about the Radio Base Versions and how to read them go here:Base Station Radio Updates

Last Updated 
2/1/15
8/16/17 Moved Radio Problem information to other website.